Youth voter registrations buck trend

By Amy Diamond

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Esther Liddle is looking forward to having her say in the  election. Photo / Andrew Warner
Esther Liddle is looking forward to having her say in the election. Photo / Andrew Warner

Tauranga 18-year-olds are bucking a national trend with more teenagers enrolled to vote than the nation-wide average.

Elections New Zealand provisional statistics based on the 2013 census data show 82.69 per cent of Bay of Plenty youths aged 18-24 are enrolled to vote, compared to 69.33 per cent of youths enrolled to vote nationally.

A group of students from Tauranga Girls' College were looking forward to voting for the first time in September.

Esther Liddle, 18, said it was important for youth to vote so the voice of the younger generation was heard.

"It's good to get our opinion heard on what happens in our country," she said.

The group of girls said the way their family voted would influence their decision as to who would get their vote.

A poll conducted at Tauranga Girls' College and Tauranga Boys' College showed the National Party as a clear favourite among the students.

The poll indicated John Key was the favourite when students were asked who their preferred Prime Minister was.

The Internet Party, which was aimed at the younger generation, did not appeal to the group of girls.

However, the poll indicated that The Internet Party was the second favourite choice for Tauranga Boys' College students with 23 per cent of the votes.

Seventeen-year-old Georgia Sharp will be 18 by September election and said youths needed to vote to have a say in what type of government would run the country.

"If people don't vote then they can't really complain," she said.

Tauranga Electoral Office registrar Lesley Christophers said she visited secondary schools in the area every year to enroll Year 13s and most of them "seemed keen" to vote.

Ms Christophers said she visited the schools to help students make well-informed decisions when voting.

"We try to make the whole voting process as less intimidating as possible."

Ms Christophers said she was pleased with the amount of students signed up to vote in the area and that it was important to inform first-time voters about the option of being on the Maori roll to vote.

"When we visit schools with a higher Maori population we encourage students to take the forms home and discuss with their family which roll they would like to go on."

By the numbers

*Citizens and permanent residents aged 18 years and over are required to enrol to vote but voting is not compulsory
*95.44 per cent of the Bay of Plenty population is enrolled to vote, compared to 89.15 per cent of the national population
*The Auckland Central electorate has the lowest number of people enrolled with only 67.75 per cent

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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